Chapel Hill Senior Care Studies: How Does BMI Affect Alzheimer’s Risk?

September 27, 2016 | By Lorenzo Mejia

A new report on senior care from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has found elderly individuals with a lower body mass index (BMI) may have elevated levels of the protein beta-amyloid. This protein is believed to be the first stage of preclinical Alzheimer’s. The link was particularly evident in those carrying a known marker called apolipoprotein or APoE4. This marker is an indicator known to increase the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s.

The study examined BMI and beta amyloid levels in over 280 patients between 62-90 years old who were in good overall health and had normal cognition. PET images were conducted to check for amyloid build-up in the brain. After adjusting for age, sex, education, and APoE4 status, the lower BMI patients showed a higher level of amyloid plaque in the brain. This was especially significant for those with the APoE4 gene variant. Some of the research offered an explanation for the association with a low BMI as an indicator of frailty.
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